Former Sen. Joe Lieberman helped launch his own political career decades ago with a book on a Connecticut boss – but says he isn’t seeing enough ‘power broker’ in President Joe Biden.
Lieberman, who served as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2000 and served with Biden for two decades, says Biden needs to take greater command of his party.
‘I must say that I haven’t seen enough of that yet,’ Lieberman told DailyMail.com in an interview
‘I had the highest regard for real affection for him. And I was proud to support him in 2020, [and] don’t minimize the difficulty of the political situation,’ Lieberman said.
‘While in my 24 years in the Senate, I saw Joe Biden do a lot of … powerbrokering which was the title of my original book way back about [state party chair] John Bailey. I haven’t seen him be able to do enough of it now as president,’ Lieberman said.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut wrote a book about a Connecticut power broker, and said of Biden: ‘I haven’t seen him be able to do enough of it now as president’
‘And the irony and difficulty is that the biggest loser of a failure to adopt the bipartisan infrastructure bill I think will be President Biden himself,’ he added.
He said Biden ‘really has the come in and plead with, pressure, to do whatever it takes’ to advance the bipartisan infrastructure bill. He called it ‘historically significant’ and ‘really good for the country.’
He was less convinced about the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better plan, which he described as insufficiently vetted.
And he said of the left’s demands: ‘They are hurting the president and the Democratic Party as it approaches midterm elections.’
Lieberman said Biden should ‘either negotiate a compromise on the large reconciliation bill, or put it into some sort of committee negotiating process among Democrats until they can come up with a compromise agreement.’
Lieberman, who chairs the group No Rules, is an avowed centrist who penned a new book, The Centrist Solution, which tells yarns from his political careers interspersed with concrete guidance and advice for how to forge compromise.
In his book he describes bipartisan achievements like the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments and helping peel off GOP support for President Obama’s economic stimulus. He describes his move to become an Independent, and says he talks regularly with West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.
‘I’m encouraged when I hear that Senator Senator or Senator Manchin have gone to the White House. So far I haven’t seen anything productive anything real come out of it,’ he said.
Asked if he knows what Sinema is seeking, he said: ‘I really don’t know. I talk to Joe Manchin a fair amount, but I haven’t really been in touch with Sen. Sinema.’
He says he hasn’t seen the portrayal of Sinema on ‘Saturday Night Live’ where she is played as someone refusing to reveal what she wants in talks, but says he gets the sense Democrats are more frustrated with her than they are with Manchin.
Lieberman, who chairs the group No Rules, says he doesn’t know what Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is seeking through negotiations
He said he was disappointed with Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa for appearing on stage and accepting Donald Trump’s endorsement
Lieberman is friends with Maine Sen. Susan Collins, who infuriated the left with her vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh
Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000, served 24 years in the Senate, and became an Independent. Here Lieberman talks with reporters as he walks through the Senate subway in Washington on Tuesday, June 22, 2021
‘Part of it is that she’s new. Part of that is she’s been a little less personally engaged with her colleagues. Joe is a, you know, Joe’s a people person and Joe will talk to anybody, which is the way politics should be, including people who disagree with him. And Sinema’s new. She’s come to the center, or the limelight in the Senate, almost embarrassingly probably to her. But she’s – she’s got a lot of potential to really play a constructive role in the Senate and in Congress, and I hope people will work with her to see that that’s true.’
A decade ago when she was a party activist, Sinema called Lieberman ‘pathetic’ and ‘a shame to Democrats,’ but has since moved to the center and stands as one of the chief obstacles to advancing the $3.5 trillion plan.
Lieberman rejects the notion that the party’s left has been more willing to compromise, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders move from $6 trillion to $3.5 trillion.
‘Bernie’s $6 trillion in the original program went from the unbelievable to the merely unaffordable $3.5 trillion,’ Lieberman said.
He continues to back up close friend Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who infuriated the left with her vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite her own pro choice views and accusations against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.
‘I know people get upset with her. But I know her well enough to know that she really struggled with it. It was not a political motive,’ he said. ‘She was trying to do what was right under her power to advise and consent to a presidential nomination to the Supreme Court.’
He referenced her Senate floor speech about her decision, where she called him an ‘exemplary public servant’ but said Blasey Ford’s allegations had a ‘lack of corroborating evidence.’
‘When I saw her do that speech I thought it was really a well thought out speech. I said to her afterwards: Susan you you look really tired. It was a great speech but you look tired and I know why. You were probably up half the night with writing the speech. She laughed and she said oh you know me very well.’
Lieberman’s reach across the aisle has limits. He condemned Sen. Charles Grassley’s decision to appear on stage with Donald Trump at a weekend Iowa rally.
‘No, I mean I think the statements made by Chuck Grassley, who I always liked and enjoyed working with respected, were very disappointing,’ he said.
Lieberman’s book makes scant mention of the driving clash between the parties today: Trump’s election overturn effort. On page 278, right before the last page, he notes that ‘After the 2020 election and before Joe Biden was inaugurated, President Trump focused on challenging the legitimacy of the election of Joe Biden, and the bipartisan leadership of Congress was unable or unwilling to work together to enact an extension of the COVID relief programs that millions of Americans desperately needed.’
The No Labels group pushed it and a version got enacted after Biden was sworn in.
Lieberman works at the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, and partner Marc Kasowitz represented Trump amid the Russia probe in 2017.
Asked if the Trump presidency and the Capitol riot have impacted the environment for compromise, he said, ‘The mood has changed.’ He said his last two years in the Senate were ‘the most partisan and the least productive.’
He said even though some moderates ended up voting for Trump ‘he just ended up being infuriating to them and actually making the problem of partisanship and really in some ways as important, instability in the government, worse.’